SeaFood Business

APR 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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40 SeaFood Business April 2014 Visit us online at Special Feature Photo by Jessica Hathaway Thinking pink Product diversifcation takes another look at canned salmon BY MELISSA WOOD I n the last decade, the grow- ing variety of salmon prod- ucts has taken pinks out of the can and into burgers, H&G fllets and other val- ue-added products. However, the next innovation may again be cans, as Alaska processors consider moving from the tra- ditional tall, 14.75-ounce ves- sels to something smaller and more accessible. "To hit a certain price point there is a real need to reduce the normal size of canned salmon, much like tuna, cereal, ice cream — it's a pretty common thing happening in the retail food world right now," says Tyson Fick, communications direc- tor for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) in Juneau, Alaska. To make this happen, the state legislature is currently reauthorizing HB 204, Te Salmon & Herring Product Development Tax Credit. Te previous version of the bill, which has been around for 10 years, gave tax credits to processors that invested in creating new product forms, helping to drive diversifca- tion of pinks: In 2003, 72 percent of Alaska's pink salmon was canned. Te canned share of Alaska pink salmon dropped to 49 per- cent in 2012. Now that the bill is up for renewal, the legislature is working on updates that would allow the credit to be used for new types of canned product, which were previ- ously excluded. Te funds have to be used to create something new, says Fick, and not for simply replacing old equipment. "Te idea was to drive in- novation and in this case now that's been successful, and it would make sense to include the smaller can size in this tax credit," he says. "[Determining] what will happen on the ground if that happens with the salmon canners is like looking into the crystal ball. What the ab- solute right size is, we don't re- ally know, but I'm sure they'll be in touch with [companies like Bumble Bee]." Te past year was big for pinks. Alaska fshermen land- ed a record 219 million pink salmon in 2013, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in January that it would buy $20 million in canned pinks for food assis- tance programs. Despite the good news, and healthy fshery, high catches had some worried about a glut of canned product lowering prices. To address this, ASMI committed $1.5 million to a campaign specifcally market- ing canned pinks. For the last decade, howev- er, pink prices have only been going up. Tey rose from 9 cents per pound ex-vessel value in 2003 to 48 cents per pound in 2012, according to data compiled by the Mc- Dowell Group in Juneau. Tom Sunderland, VP of marketing and communi- cations for Ocean Beauty Seafoods in Seattle, does not think that will change. "Prices haven't crashed or anything, things are selling through to an OK rate. Busi- ness looks good, so there's ab- solutely no reason to panic," he says. "Tings are going fne despite a heavy catch this year. If Alaska can manage selling through very strongly when the catch is this strong, that's good news for the in- dustry and the state." He says value-added prod- ucts made with pink salmon continue to grow. "Tere's been long-term growth. Pink salmon is an abundant resource. It's a good eating fsh and so there's no reason that value- added development should slow down anytime soon." In particular, burgers are big. "Te salmon burger cat- egory has probably been the most consistent category in our industry for sustained growth over the last 10 years," says Sunderland. He sums up their appeal by re- calling a conversation he had with a customer from the Midwest. He asked her if she liked fsh, and she said "yes," but she doesn't know how to cook it. At the same time, she said she really liked salmon burgers and bought those. "'I know how to cook a burger,'" Sunderland recalls her saying. "It wasn't fsh to her, it was a burger, and I think that is the key to why salmon burgers have been so consistently successful. It's Alaska seafood suppliers have high hopes for the abundant pink salmon. 36_WhatsInStore_38btl_40SpecFeat_41jump.indd 40 3/24/14 3:20 PM

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